The York University Graduate Student Association stands in solidarity with the families and friends of George Floyd and Regis Korchinski-Paquet and those protesting for justice around the world. Over the past week, we have witnessed the catastrophic outcomes of anti-black racism in the United States and Canada necessitated by police systems rooted in white supremacy and nations invested in the maintenance of racial inequality. The inhumane treatment of Black people by police within our communities has been perversely commonplace for too long and we cannot allow it to be normalized or unpunished any longer. Although systemic racism permeates all facets of our societies, including the judicial institutions we must seek justice within, it is our responsibility to demand justice for George Floyd, Regis Korchinski-Paquet and the countless other Black lives lost to police brutality. Furthermore, it is our duty to work towards dismantling the institutions that continue to insist on Black death as the price for maintaining order.
Racist ideologies constructed during slavery and colonization to justify the horrors perpetrated against Black people continues to inform perception and valuation of Black lives today. This is evidenced and reinforced by the brutal and discriminant practices of police and the continued perversion of justice that sees murderers escape culpability and penalties for their crimes while victims are posthumously put on trial. Despite our knowledge of the police systems’ historical purpose which is surveilling and oppressing Black communities in order to protect and serve Whiteness, we continue to be shocked by the violence it perpetrates against Black people as though it is not working as designed. The police system stands guards of the white supremacist, settler-colonial state and we must take significant material steps towards its destruction and the eradication of white supremacy in all its iterations.
The reach of white supremacy is evident and pervasive within our academic institutions and the interventions necessary to counter the rampant anti-black racism must be addressed here to start. York University has been awfully silent about any tangible steps it is willing to take to address the numerous instances of anti-black racism on campus. Black students, faculty, and staff at York University have expressed, on various occasions, their negative experiences and growing concerns of the ways anti-black racism manifests on campus including underrepresentation of Black faculty, patterns of racial inequalities, and the concentration of precarious Black professors as contract instructors.
At this time, we call for senior administrators at York University to reinforce their statements with actions that prove their investment in fighting against anti-black racism. We demand the senior administration at York University to consider implementing courses on anti-oppression for both graduate and undergraduate students. We demand that the senior administration amplify the voices of Black academics through providing higher level positions for them. Simply releasing a statement is not a resolution. Senior administration must invest in doing more for the Black community at York University. A few months ago, a black associate professor at York accused the university of discrimination and harassment based on his race. Aimé Avolonto, a professor in the Department of French Studies at the Glendon campus filed two complaints to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. Senior administration at York responded to these serious allegations of anti-black racism by announcing they were conducting their own internal investigation. The university must comprehend that an internal investigation is not a sufficient response to systemic issues that cultivate racisms within our institution. We cannot commit to fighting against white supremacy and anti-blackness without addressing the anti-black racism within our own spaces. York University Graduate Students Association commits to fight alongside those invested in just futures for our society and more specifically we commit to advocate for and support Black York community members in combating anti-blackness in any form it takes on campus.
Black lives matter to us.